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Top Intranet Designs of 2022: An Inside Look at the Winning Projects

A round-table discussion with team members from Banner Healthcare and MassMutual as they showcase their Nielsen Norman Group's "Best Intranets of 2022" award-winning intranet projects.

Duration: 45 mins + 15 mins Q&A

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Top Intranet Designs of 2022: An Inside Look at the Winning Projects

Watch this on-demand webinar for a round-table discussion with team members from Banner Healthcare and MassMutual as they showcase their award-winning intranet projects.

We’ll dive into the project strategies, requirements, features and stunning designs – and ultimately what lead them to be selected by Nielsen Norman Group as a global pick for the Top Intranet Designs of 2022.

You will benefit from this webinar if you:

  • Are looking for ideas to optimize or improve your company intranet
  • Want to showcase examples of what others are doing with their digital workplace
  • Are considering applying for project awards in 2022 or 2023

This webinar will be meaningful and relevant to your work. Download today and get access to the on-demand recording.

Samantha Kenney: I would like to welcome everyone to Top Intranet Designs of 2022. We actually have some multi-year representation here with 2021 recipients as well. We'll get into that in just a minute, but first, let me get into some of our fabulous panelists that we have joining us today. First and foremost, I’d like to introduce Betsy Codding, she is the head of Digital Communications at MassMutual. Welcome Betsy.

Betsy Codding:  Thank you, nice to be here.

Samantha Kenney:  Next we have Tyson Henry, the Digital Workplace Senior Director at Banner Healthcare. Thanks Tyson for joining us today.

Tyson Henry:  Thank you.

Samantha Kenney:  And last but not least, Brian Kelly, who is a Business Analyst at ConocoPhillips. Thank you Brian for joining us to represent your team.

Brian Kelly:  Thank you for the opportunity of course.

Samantha Kenney:  And of course, I'm Samantha Kenney. I’m the VP of Global Marketing at Akumina and I actually have the least amount to do today because we get to go through the three projects that we're going to highlight today as a Nielsen Norman Best Intranet Design award winners. 

For those that aren't familiar with Nielsen Norman, Nielsen Norman is a really excellent, what we call third party organization, but is actually an analyst organization. They do not receive any funding, it's really an independent third party reviewing all sorts of different digital communications as well as other mediums and Nielsen Norman has been doing an intranet design award for quite some time.

ConocoPhillips won one of the top intranet designs (in 2021) and MassMutual as well as Banner Healthcare won in 2022. We were very fortunate to have this group come together to talk about what made their internets award-winning, what were some of the things that worked for their particular organizations, and we'll even get into some of the things they would do differently. So, very excited to talk about those projects but first just a quick overview of how these organizations have become a Nielsen Norman award winner.

There is a very rigorous vetting process that happens, it is months long, in fact we'll get into some of the details at the end of this presentation but the actual call for nomination starts now for next year and it's about a 12 month long vetting process to actually create the full report with all of the case studies that Nielsen Norman pulls together.

Lots of questions to the organizations around the goals and the audiences served, the features and functionality, what the intranet used to look like versus what it looks like today, and then working through all of those individual features and design and how it really is worthy of being a top 10 intranet in the entire world. So, lots of work goes into this and I will share that link later so that if anyone is looking to become a world-class top intranet design of 2023, we’ll have that information for you as well.

So again, congratulations to the folks here on the line, I know it was a lot for you to do and it definitely doesn't go unrecognized that you have a great team behind all of you to get this done. So thank you again very much for that.

So first and foremost, we'll go kind of in order so we're going to start with Banner Health and then we'll work into MassMutual and ConocoPhillips, and the first question that I would like to ask all of you really is, “What did you do to prepare for this project? I feel like the first step on this journey is actually the hardest one to take and so before we get into the beauty that came out of it on the other end, what were some of the things that you needed to do even to just get organized?” So I’ll start with you Tyson.

Tyson Henry:  Sounds good. Thanks for the introduction. As Samantha said, I’m Tyson Henry. I’ve been with Banner Health for, well, since 2018. Before that, I was at another healthcare organization for about six years. I’ve been in healthcare for over 10 years working in this space, intranets and digital workforce type of things, and so for this particular project, I mean this is a really long story so I’m going to try to summarize it for you, a lot of preparation went into it. 

Before I even got to Banner, a former leader of mine at a previous healthcare company had already started building a new department at Banner Health called ‘Digital Business’ and so that was carved out by the CIO at the time so Digital Business was meant to lead Banner’s new digital initiatives. So for patients and what we call our ‘Sofias,’ it's our persona for patients and then also for our internal workforce as well. So he carved out a role for me, Visiting Workforce Director, and he'd already done a lot of work to kind of say ‘hey, we need a new intranet. I'm bringing in a new leader is going to help build that intranet because ours had been around since 2003 without much of a design modification.’ So a lot of work was done there to kind of carve out that what I would kind of call like the ‘political space’ to have a new team at Banner that would lead this effort that was sorely needed. 

Then after that, we had to seek some funding in order to do the more complex version of the intranet that we wanted to do, that we thought would meet the needs of our workforce. We went on a campaign and worked with the senior leaders of the organization and shared a lot of presentations and a lot of proving that we needed a certain amount of funding to make what we were planning to do work. So that took quite a while but got the funding while all of that was being worked out.

I was able to hire a team and work with stakeholders across the organization to prepare for this project. So, we did analysis on the old intranet, for instance, we did user research, we did an intranet survey, we started building the information architecture for the site, we started on designs and mock-ups, so it took quite a while to get the official funding going. In the meantime, we just kind of lined things up as nicely as we could and decided what the MVP or the ‘Minimum Viable Product’ would be at the end of this project. So that's in a nutshell. There's a lot more that can be said about how we prepared but I’ll let you move on to the next slide.

Samantha Kenney:  We joked yesterday about the fact that every one of these could have been its own three-day workshop.

Tyson Henry:  This first slide is interesting. You know, we didn't initially plan for this, this came at the very end right as we were about to launch the new intranet. By the way, it's called ‘Banner Connect.’ That was part of our preparation planning was the branding of the site. The old site, which was called ‘the employee intranet’ or ‘the employee website’ did not have a name really or a branding to it so we decided beforehand it would be called ‘Banner Connect.’ So near the launch, there were some things that we missed with the user experience. Sadly for some of our shared workstation workers, you know our front-line nurses who were taking care of patients in the middle of a pandemic, they would be required with the new platform to sign into their Microsoft account to the site. But with shared workstations, their browsers would time out and as a nurse, you don't have time to go in and enter your username and password every single time and they didn't have to do that on the old intranet which was less secure and things like that. 

Long story short, as we went, we had to come up with a way to have them skip sign-in which would give them a less personalized experience or select (as you can see here on the left if you sign in as yourself) you'll get all these more personalized experiences. If you do the right, you'll just get the basic content on the intranet. So our IT departments helped us come up with a solution and so now if they're in a hurry they can just click that button on the right.

So here is the clinical navigation. As you see across the top, here we've got four buckets I guess what we call a ‘Mega Nav’ on the site. We've got our company on the left there, clinical pay and personal and workplace tools. This tab, this ‘Mega Nav’ is really for our clinicians, so nurses and physicians and those who are actually taking care of patients. I should have mentioned at the beginning, we're a company of about 55,000 employees, we have hospitals all over Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska so we span a lot of territory in so many different roles. Even just within the clinical space, different nursing units and such all have various needs around clinical information and applications that they need to get in order to take care of patients. 

So this was a menu we put together working with stakeholders, especially clinical informatics and nurses themselves and some physicians, took a lot of analysis of the old intranet (i.e. what tools do they need) and took quite a while to get this together but this is the most clicked on menu item because we're a healthcare company. I'll kind of leave it at that. As you can see, there's these main categories with the links underneath them and we can get into more details if you have questions about that later.

This is the homepage. Hopefully you can see the details, probably don't need to see the footer there but, if you can, you'll notice the carousel at the top and then below that the news. I’ve got the three news items, those are areas that are owned by our corporate communications team at Banner who we partner with very closely. They're a really critical part of the success of our homepage on Banner Connect so important announcements at the top, news at the bottom or right below that. In the upper left, we've got what we call ‘Personal Greeting’ so Banner Connect knows who you are. We know your name, we know your job role, your department, and we have some random greetings that every time the page loads, a different combination of greetings show there. Pretty soon we'll be launching like a ‘Happy Anniversary’ message when it's your work anniversary and we're working on trying to get birthdays approved just to give them that thing of ‘happy birthday.’ So we have a road map for what we want to build to make that even more personalized. 

Below that we have quick links, which are the core tools that are the most popular links. Kind of a combination of clinical things but also HR type things and items related to your personal work management, your personal life, your pain, all that. But below that, we've got links for your facility so if Banner Connect knows what facility you work at, which hospital for instance, and it surfaces links to that facility and then news from that facility you can click in and go directly to that website on Banner Connect for your facility. Or you can just click on those links below that not expanded. We have a yammer community, we just call it ‘My Communities.’ There, you can show whatever feed is relevant to you. Banner is a big yammer user so we default most people to a communications owned group or lead group and then they can go ahead and select the group like nursing or whatever it is that's most relevant to them.

To the right of that, we've got the events. So upcoming important dates. To the right of that is the company initiative. So these are the things that are most important to Banner that we would accomplish throughout the year. To the right of that, we have an ‘Ask Banner’ section where employees can ask a question to the C-suite and some of those questions are selected and they get an answer there on the homepage. you can see the footer

Samantha Kenney:  We've got questions actually. The last one, Marilyn, would like to know “Is the A-Z index for those who don't know exactly what they're looking for and is that just for the clinical section or for the entire intranet?”

Tyson Henry:  Good question! We see the A-Z index as kind of like a site map, but more organized.  So the first menu we showed you that had the four big buckets, that's kind of the core, most important links that we feel like are most popular. Most essential the A-Z is much more granular. It shows subpages on sites. We've got over 200 sites on Banner Connect so that's different departments, teams, initiatives, service lines, things like that so they have a lot of good content that didn't make its way into the ‘Mega Nav.’ There's just not enough room to put every single link there so the YouTube page is like that site map. But it's just A-Z so you can go to the top click “b” and it takes you down to the ”b” section. There's just a lot more links in there. It is a very popular link, a lot of people click that. Some people are navigators, some people are searchers, and so we wanted to accommodate all those types of users. Hopefully that answers your question.

Samantha Kenney:  I have a few more for guest speakers, “Can you describe the organization of who is on your employee intranet team and how many colleagues you have?” So for Betsy and Brian, I'll have you hold that one in the back of your head for when you go through yours, but Tyson, if you wouldn't mind giving that overview.

Tyson Henry:  Sure. So I've got three direct reports on my team, two digital product managers and one digital product analyst.  So our broader department is really product management focused. So digital product management principles and things like that and then we have a design team in that same department led by another director. He's got a lot of designers, UI/UX designers, and so we partner with them on UI/UX design and all that stuff. But my immediate team is pretty small, there's just four of us and then we partner with IT as well on development like getting new features created. That's a pretty small team, I want to say two or three analysts and a leader who help us with that technical side and the technical support of the site and the build out of things and then there's a software engineering team on that side who doesn't just do Banner Connect, they do other SharePoint projects as well. But yeah once again, our team is very small but we have to partner with so many groups across the organization to make the site successful, departments like Corporate Comms, HR, Clinical Education type teams and so we're tiny but we're very well connected to make the site successful - small but mighty. 

Samantha Kenney:  I actually have more. “What platform is this Tyson?”

Tyson Henry:  Sure yeah, so it's SharePoint online and then Akumina sits on top of SharePoint online to help us get the design that we want. So two main platforms there.

Samantha Kenney:  So for all three of you again, “did the speaker work with third-party inranet vendors to assist with custom web parts, architecture, and ongoing support?” So I know, again, that's a bigger answer for Brian and Betsy, but Tyson…

Tyson Henry:  Sure yeah, so we did all our design in-house in our department. All the information architecture, all that stuff was from our team and working with stakeholders as well as analysts, things like that. The software engineering portion though was done by a third-party who we partner with at Banner for a lot of different things. They're called Sagetti part of Capgemini so, we've got onshore and offshore software engineers that we partner with but all the conceptual stuff, the designs and stuff, came internally.

Samantha Kenney:  Last one on this one and this is directly related to Banner Health, “How long are the three communication feature tiles promoted to the home page before being replaced with the next message?”

Tyson Henry:  They're swapped out fairly regularly so every Wednesday we have a new edition of what we call ‘Banner Buzz’ and our Corporate Comms runs that. It's like seven to tweleve articles per week on a Wednesday, but even in between those Wednesdays, these things will be swapped out to kind of keep it fresh and let our employees know about the latest information. Then some of those carousel items above that, they stick around. The toolkit has been there for a very long time. As you can imagine, healthcare and then other things will get swapped out about announcements.

Samantha Kenney:  Excellent! Okay we have a lot of questions rolling in so be prepared at the end there will be quite a few. I'm going to move forward here in the interest of time but I promise all these questions will get answered for folks on the line.

Tyson Henry:  Sure okay, so here I think what we're highlighting, is a little zoomed in on the homepage you maybe can see more detail in the upper right, you have your name and your profile photo. You can click on that which is access to your personal menu. There you can get to your profile where you can change your photo, edit tags and things like that. You can get to your ‘My Links’ which is a more the way to manage your bookmarks. 

So if you look down, notice that the hospital links are repeated on the home page. We have the hospital links, the facility links, but we repeat them there because no matter where employees are in Banner Connect, we want them to have quick access to those facility links. So they can just open that up anytime, they don't have to go back to the homepage. They can also change which facility because some of them work in multiple facilities. 

Below that are the bookmarks so any page you land on in Banner Connect, like HR has a bunch of subpages, there's a plus symbol in the upper right where you can click that and bookmark that page and that automatically shows up here. So this is a really popular feature with our end-users because nurses for instance don't have the luxury of making bookmarks in their browser because it just times out it's a shared computer. So this just allows them to save it right there on the site. People are really satisfied with this feature because they've all got their own little world of links that are important to them and we can't nail that perfectly for everybody in the ‘Mega Nav.’ Then we have plans to build this out, make it more personalized in the future.

Samantha Kenney:  A couple questions coming in about mobile so we'll go right into your mobile menus.

Tyson Henry:  Notice on the left, we'll start there, that's the home page of Banner Connect and what it looks like on mobile app. We decided which order each widget would show up in and then the one next to that is that same homepage continued. Next to that, kind of in the middle, is the main ‘Mega Navigation.’ So notice that we're in that same clinical tab there, you can see all the links below, so you can just tap one of those four squares and it shows you the links for those.

Samantha Kenney:  Love that! That's easy! That's nice.

Tyson Henry:  Yeah it's a really nice user experience. Our design team really did a great job there. 

Then below that, those quick links, those tiles with the icons, those are repeated in each menu and you have access to those as well. There's a lot more we could show mobile wise, I mean every page every experience looks really good on mobile and functions well, but we just wanted to show you these to keep it brief. 

Here's the profile. The data comes from the same sources, Microsoft, Delve, Azure and the same Microsoft services that you see in Outlook when you're looking for someone, but we didn't want to send people out to delve in Office365, we wanted to make them feel like they're still in Banner Connect. Our frontline clinicians don't need to know the difference between the Microsoft profile and ours, they just need to be in Banner Connect. 

So here, they can change that profile photo like I said and that changes it in Teams and Outlook, all those places. Below the profile photo is the org chart. It's a really simplified version. It shows me and then who I report to above me and then below my ‘My Team’ which can be expanded. If you click each of those profile photos, it will take you over to that person's profile. In the top there, you can write a description about yourself. You can change your mobile phone number and below that is those same tags that you would see in Microsoft Delve that you can edit. Then here, you can go into the edit mode and add tags. When you save that, other people can come to your profile and click that tag and it takes you over to ‘People Search,’ which shows you everyone that has that same tag.

Here, we've got the homepage of Banner Buzz. On the left, it just shows the most recent article. You can load more and show all the previous ones. We've got the article content there. We show three of the most recent articles on the right there and then at the bottom, you can make a comment on the article. You can “like” it. We use a the Yammer API service for that. Your end-users don't need to know it's Yammer, but it's a really good way to get good vibes about things that are going on around the company. We've seen some good adoption of that, before we didn't have that ability for people to comment on content on the intranet. It looks really nice and then my favorite, personally, is ‘Search’ because everyone jokes about “if you want something lost, put it on the intranet.” At least the old version of the intranet. 

Samantha Kenney:  So talk to us about your search experience here.

Tyson Henry:  Sure. We've got three verticals essentially there right now. It says everything there we've changed that to Banner Connect so it just says Banner Connect now and that's really where you find your sites and pages for the most part. But we do have a scope for people there which will take you over to the “people” tab. If you want to see more, we have one for documents and now we're working on policies, or you can go directly to the “people” tab and search for “people.” 

Then there's a documents bucket. Documents we feel like are often not relevant or well titled so we kind of put them off in their own little world.

Then on the left we have refiners. We use the SharePoint term store. We built a taxonomy at Banner, it's quite a large taxonomy, and so we default sites. If you created a new HR site for instance, we go into the back-end of the pages library, and say every new page that gets created will be tagged with HR, and then the end-user can also tag it with a subcategory. So, we leverage that taxonomy. It’s helpful for all the tagging and the work with the different facets for sure.

On the left is what we call the ‘Center for Healing.’ Our clinicians were burned out during Covid and HR helped. This is the first site that went live on Banner Connect actually, because it was really important. So, “how do you care for yourself? What are all these well-being things?” This has now been merged into the Well-being site on Banner Connect. 

Then to the right, that's an example of a text-based page where our authors can use reusable content from SharePoint and format their content in nice boxes and things like that. We really lean in on that to make sure the formatting is consistent.  

On the left, you'll see different widgets like ‘visual links,’ we call them or the carousel. Again, there's a lot more we could show you but we didn't have a lot of space to get into more detail there. 

Then there's that left-hand menu we wanted to point out which shows the hierarchy of the site. On the right hand you'll see that blue menu there (in the right screenshot it's on the left). It shows the name of the site, below that, the subsite and the pages that are underneath that one. So where some of the sites are really massive, they we needed the ability for our end-users to drill down into that menu for each site. 

Samantha Kenney:  Clearly lots of work spent in figuring out navigation, taxonomy, making it usable, all of that. Big round of applause to your UI/UX team because that is absolutely not easy.

Tyson Henry:  Certainly. They're the reason we won that award. Our UI/UX team, they made it look really nice.

Samantha Kenney:  Absolutely, they've done a phenomenal job, clearly. Speaking of your team…

Tyson Henry:  Yeah, bottom row is my team and then in the middle are the designers, front-end designers. So Mark, on the left, Schumacher, he's the director over design. He designs everything for our patients as well, not just for intranets. They use the same design system. Then the top is our IT partners Michael, Monica and Mark. So engineers, business analysts, and product owners.

Samantha Kenney:  Excellent! So a few quick questions before we move on to Betsy. “Do you have the ‘people search’ employee directory or is that part of your default search, and is that custom built or an out-of-the-box Akumina widget?”

Tyson Henry:  So I’m not sure if I totally heard everything there, but one of our quick links is for ‘people search.’ You go directly into that, it searches the data from Azure Active Directory, the Delve Microsoft information. That is not an out-of-the-box Akumina widget. We decided to just use the SharePoint search page in that particular case. The Akumina one's really nice though and I wish we would have dove into that and explored it more. I think it can be an excellent option for people.

Samantha Kenney:  Especially with the 5.5 release.

Tyson Henry:  Yes!

Samantha Kenney:  “If one of the pages they bookmarked in ‘bookmarks’ gets retired, does the bookmark automatically get removed or is there a 301 redirect?” How do you handle that, Tyson?

Tyson Henry:  We’re currently putting a redirect tool in place so that things get redirected. Unfortunately right now, some people might hit a 404, but we have a nice 404 page at least and we keep track of those things and stuff but we're in the process of getting those redirects.

Samantha Kenney:  One more question and then we'll move on to Betsy. “How much of the content displayed in your intranet was created right in Akumina versus how much was pulled in from SharePoint or other sites?”

Tyson Henry:  I mean, most of it was created in Akumina. We have the Akumina authoring tools there that, you know if you create a page for instance, it's all done through Akumina. Even that SharePoint reasonable content I mentioned, you know, you insert that through the Akumina platform and the vast majority of our authoring is done in Akumina. There are some things we do allow authors to go into SharePoint for, to edit quickly like a list item or something like that if it makes more sense for them, but most authoring is done through Akumina.

Samantha Kenney:  Anything else you want to add, Tyson?

Tyson Henry:  No. Thanks for the opportunity and I'm happy to answer more questions later. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn, anybody on the call and we can have a further discussion. Thanks.

Samantha Kenney:  Excellent, thank you and congratulations again!

Okay Betsy, I will turn things over to you.

Betsy Codding:  Awesome, thank you. Thanks Tyson. I made a bunch of notes so I will definitely be connecting with you.

Tyson Henry:  I’ll be taking notes too

Betsy Codding:  Great. So this is a great question to start off with, I think “How did you prepare for this project?”, because I think a lot of people are wondering like “Where do I start? What are the first steps to take?” and I would say, like Tyson, we kind of have a long story.  

I would say that we were at the point of us moving to a new platform which is SharePoint Online and Akumina, we were kind of under the gun because we were on an old version of SharePoint so there was sort of this technology urgency to get off of SharePoint 2010 and then move to a new platform. But the decision point on getting kind of aligned internally, the work we did a lot of it was around educating ourselves first. So I would say we kind of did the tour of intranet events and conferences and things like that and that's how we happened to meet Akumina actually. We saw a couple of nice demos for the work that Akumina has done with the Red Sox and it was just a great way for us to get familiar with the landscape of what other people were doing, what was possible.  

Then I would say the other really important thing, or I would  mention two other things actually, I think it's important to get aligned internally in the same way that Tyson was talking about Banner. You know, my team sits in Strategic Communication, so I made sure that we had very strong partners in HR and in IT so that together we had kind of this unified front to lobby for the project that we wanted to create. And we kind of had a shared vision of where we wanted to go. 

Then I’d say the other important thing in terms of preparation is really talking to employees. So we spent some time, we had a consulting firm come in and do focus groups, we did surveys. We were really interested in understanding what employees were looking for, how they use the current intranet, and then even kind of the blue sky of what they might want, how things might work better for them to be more efficient. 

So okay let's move to the next slide. So this is a screenshot of our homepage, and one of the things that we consciously did is because our old site was a little more news heavy, we heard from employees they wanted things to be a little more efficient and a little more integrated. So less kind of living out of their email and going back to email for all the announcements and things or even could we come up with a way for them to go to fewer sites. So what we did is try to combine all that thinking into one really useful homepage. So what we have at the top is our ‘welcome message’ and that is one of our more kind of lighthearted elements of the site. We try to throw in a little factoid or a joke, something that really you know brings the site to life for employees. So in addition to adding all this utility, we wanted to bring the employee community, and really the personality of our employees, to life. So we have jokes and fun facts and things like that and occasionally we link off to something. We try not to keep it too “businessy” so people can come back and see kind of the ‘fact of the day.’

Our news is right in that rotator at the top and then our calendar sits next to that along the kind of the right rail there. And then one of the things that we integrated here that has been one of our more successful features actually, is the ‘apps and links’ area. So we use Octa for our single sign-in so what we did is we brought in this personalization. So it brings in all of the applications that an individual employee has been provisioned for and it allows the employee to choose their 12 favorites and customize that into the bar that appears on the home page. And a little bit later, we'll get to what the whole array looks like and how you customize it, but this gets around the fact of employees who said “I know that this application exists but I can't remember how to get there” or “I want to create a list of the applications that I use in my daily life and make this site work for me”, so that really allows people to do that.

And then the next band of widgets is what we call our ‘Working at MassMutual’ band and so that is your ServiceNow tickets, your remaining vacation time, and the most important thing, how many days till payday. So employees were asking for this as well. And I don't know if other people experience this, but when we switched to Workday as our HR system of record, there was some confusion among employees about how to find exactly how many vacation days they had left because you have to go in and you have to kind of tinker with the interface and put in the right dates and that spits out the information for you, so what we did is we bring that information right to the employee. We have an integration with Workday and we just bring that information right there. You can see how much time you have left and then you can go from this widget back to Workday to take time off as you need and we did the same thing with Payday. It's just a calendar running in the background. And if you want to view your most recent pay stub, you can go right over to workday to see that.

Then at the bottom there, again just trying to get more of that sense of community and fun on the site, we call this our ‘Digital Coffee Break’ and kind of left to right it's what we call our ‘Fun Life” reel section and that can be anything from a quote to a picture of an event that happened on campus. We have classifieds which employees love that sort of contained buying and selling among employees which is always fun our employee discounts. 

Then over on the right is what was initially intended to be our cafeteria menus, but like a lot of other people, we launched during the pandemic so we did not have people going to the cafeteria. So we repurposed that and we did some menus and recipes and things that were more appropriate for people who were cooking at home. Now that we're back in the office, we have actually added the link to the menus back in that area so now we have kind of a hybrid because we have a hybrid workplace.

So on the next slide, if you click on the bell in the top ‘Nav”, again really going for this concept that a lot of people talk about, like “where can we create a universal inbox?” or “just one place where I can find all my alerts and information.” So this notification, we can manually populate those, but they also are hooked up to Service Now and to Work Day so when it comes to annual review time or if you have something you need to approve in Service Now, you get notifications there. I don’t know if other people experienced this, but we have those pieces of content that aren't really articles but still need to be disseminated to employees, so things like “they might be testing the fire alarms on Saturday morning” or something like that, and that is not really worthy of an article, but we never really knew where to put it. And so now it lives in the ‘need to know’ section. So your bell will change. It'll have a little red dot over it that says you have an “x” number of notifications and you just click on that and then you can see your ‘need to knows’ and your ‘need to do's’. We also have a space up there where we can put a little graphic banner, and we've used that throughout the pandemic actually, to take people right to the Covid-19 page. And we also use that for things like annual benefits enrollment. So just a quick link to really important content.

Samantha Kenney:  That's really interesting Betsy. A lot of folks are asking for like an external corporate communication level within the intranet as well so being able to use call to actions and things like that, a lot of folks don't have them. So that's an excellent addition I'm sure that gets used quite a bit.

One question that we did have from the previous slide, and I don't want to go too far before we answer it, is “What percentage of employees, if you know, have used the favorites functionality on the homepage or adjusting the different apps?”

Betsy Codding:  In terms of percentage, I don't know, but I would say that it is one of our top clicks every month. So we have about 7,000 employees and we run our metrics every month and we look at how people are using the new site and what they're using, and customizing apps and links and going to apps and links is usually within the top two or three.

Samantha Kenney:  And what are you using for your analytics?

Betsy Codding:  We use Google Analytics.

Samantha Kenney:  Google Analytics?

Betsy Codding:  Yep.

Samantha Kenney:  Excellent.

Betsy Codding:  Great. So we focused a lot on search. We were not happy with the search we had on our previous site which was in SharePoint 2010, and as a lot of people know, it can pull back a lot of random documents and a lot of weird, and potentially confidential, things that it shouldn't. So we really focused on data cleanup, data governance, and taxonomy in the back-end to make search results clean.  

And then we also focused on this new interface that you see here. So a little more graphical. It has icons that indicate what type of resource it is, it has a little thumbnail, and then the thing that we are really proud of, is this little search snippet that you see at the top of the page. So in some cases, we anticipate the content that people are looking for. If you search “holiday,” we know what you want and so we just put up the company holidays right there at the top of the search results page. We still have a link to the holiday PDF if that's what you would like, but we're trying to get people to the content that they need as quickly as possible.

I do want to leave time for ConocoPhillips, so tell me if you want me to abbreviate any of my next slides. I’m happy to, as Tyson said, connect with people on LinkedIn and talk further there.

Samantha Kenney:  I think the highlight of your mobile navigation, at least for me, somebody coming in and looking at this, was really the use of buttons and the ability to be able to quickly get to those high level pieces of information. I think we've seen that come across a lot and then the choice to make the left hand rail your navigation as opposed to the traditional top menu, if you want to talk about that for a minute?

Betsy Codding:  Sure, yeah. So we have a fully responsive site, so you can see that it adapts to whatever size screen you're on and you can see the yellow nav there on the right of the slide, it gets a little bit bigger so you can hit it with your finger or thumb. And then we did include the buttons that Samantha was mentioning. So, as you browse through certain topics, if there's an application that you might need to just get to quickly, we added a button, so you could get to ServiceNow and Workday because a lot of times with your benefits or your technology queries, that's exactly where you need to go and where you want to go. So that's there.

And then the left rail, so we had a top ‘Mega Nav’ and it used to be that on mouse-over, it would expand. We found though that that took up a lot of real estate on the screen and we also found that the mouse-over was causing people to expand the menu and they didn't really mean to. So we moved the nav to the left. We made it, as you can see on the site it's icon based, so the initial level doesn't take up very much space and then it locks in place so as you click on items, they expand and lock there. So we have a little bit less of that kind of mouse-over issue where you kind of lose what you're trying to get to.

Samantha Kenney:  Can we talk about this for a minute and what this means?

Betsy Codding:  Yeah, so your ‘Personalized Gateway to Productivity,’ this is where we brought in all the Octa, the single sign-on provisioning. So, if you remember the apps and links on the home page when you say “customize my apps and links,” you get to this page. So this is everything an individual user is provisioned for and there are a couple different ways we made it accessible. So you can click on a heart and that will pop something up in the gray area which are your ‘favorites,’ you can drag and drop something into that area. So a couple different ways to achieve that and then you just save it and your choices are reflected in your ‘favorites’ which is also along the top. If you see the heart icon, you can also quickly get to those apps. It's part of our kind of persistent ‘top nav’ as well.

Samantha Kenney:  Alright, so ‘Manager Dashboard,’ and of course these are some of the interior pages that we were talking about for specific needs. So Covid…

Betsy Codding:  Yep. We did a lot with creating resources for employees during the pandemic. We stood up at Covid-19 page and then also, like everybody else, really focusing on employee well-being. So we had a lot of great content out there about fitness that you could do from home or you could do a Zoom yoga class. So just trying to get people connected to the resources they might need whether it's physical well-being or emotional well-being. And have a content strategy where we're trying to create these kind of one-stop shops and then just keep sending people back there so it's a familiar place and the content may change, we may have more content or different content but they always know where to go.

Samantha Kenney:  And the value of your partnerships and your communication strategy really shines through here especially when you see all of these different resources coming into the intranet. So lots of commendable items there, and your team as well, for you and your team.

Betsy Codding:  Yep. Here's the team, the stellar team. So I have five people on my team, plus we have a lead developer, a project manager, a BA, and a couple assist admin and another developer. And also want to say that both Akumina and Veracity, who we use for building our site, have been incredible partners to us so you should have your picture there as well, Samantha.

Samantha Kenney:  Thank you, Betsy.

Alright, so Brian, let's do a nice little transition into ConocoPhillips. So how did you prepare for this project?

Brian Kelly:  Much like Tyson and Betsy mentioned, it was a year’s long process of being forced into it by technology, aligning the people within the business to get there, and get ready to g,o but I think one of the biggest things we did was scope it. We talk about the intranet but it's too big. If you want to go ahead and advance the slide. Intranet by itself is too big. What we did was attack a site. In this particular case, this is our mark, this is our landing page on all our company issued computers so it gets plenty of use. But being a global company, everybody has their local content that they want to put on. So we have numerous authors fighting for this real estate, trying to get it on, but this is owned by Corporate Communications so that they can drive what's there.  

In preparation for this we did bring in the authors though. We brought in 40+ people from around the world (Australia, Qatar, Norway, UK, and Canada) for a two-day conference about where we wanted to go with this. It was awesome, it really was, as far as deciding what we wanted to do.

As Betsy mentioned, yeah you got to do your research out there.  What's possible?  Where do you want to go?  What do you want to include?  Betsy did a lot more of inclusion with the Workday stuff and Tyson pointed out how they did their stuff with Delve, or not doing Delve, but we stayed away from all that.  We really zeroed in on our site and stuck with that scope as something we could attack.  We understand we are not big fans of minimal viable products.  We understand we're going to shoot for the stars, so that helped focus our scope to where it needed to be.  

Very similar and a lot of components to what we've seen on the previous sites, the news carousel at the top. We have three stories at a time rotating through five screens. We have 15 stories, but programmatically we've overridden it where global stories, because we flag each story as to whether it's going to be global or locally, there are seven global stories along with eight from the local authors. So the personalization on the site is they see what's around them, but they can't escape the corporate propaganda. We want our stories out there about how we work as a company and what we do, so it's an intermix there.

Samantha Kenney:  I lovingly refer to company propaganda as “sponsored content.”

Brian Kelly:  There you go.

Right below that, you see that ‘take action.’ Betsy pointed out she has the alarm in the upper right hand corner, what we've done was we make none of our components optional. \ If there's content there, it'll show up. In a future slide you're gonna see an alert, which pops up above the company news. So we've changed these dynamics on the site as people go to it.

On the left hand side of the screen is a productivity bar. We'll get into the whole thing a little bit over the next couple slides, but at the first point, you see the user and their location. The user gets to select their location, whereas Tyson takes it from “where do you work?”, we let people pick where they want the news from, what's going on, we have people that work in the UK but it's a joint venture project with Norway, so Norway content is more applicable to their job roles versus where they're physically located. And those situations exist throughout the world. You pick your location that will shape the local news for you that is intermixed with the sponsored propaganda that we have.

Our top navigation, Betsy hit this spot on. We do have that issue where people hover over this and it pops up and it kind of gets in the way a little bit. Why did we decide on top navigation? The callous answer is, because we did it yesterday. But in reality, as we did the preparation for this, we did numerous interviews with our users and we asked them what was important. But then we also gave them tasks to do and we watched them. The muscle memory was awesome to behold they knew where to go. If they couldn't iterate the organization of the site, they could still get there. Having that familiarity was, I think, a big key to the smoothness of the rollout as we brought this online.

You also notice in this top navigation, the first column is Houston. That's your local content. These are the links the local authors feel are important. We have the center one for our global links and then on the right is just the heavily traveled sites:  quick, easy access to those.  

‘HR and wellness’ is the one column, ‘working collaboration’ is the other one. That would be your IT tools and such. The Mark Home is general information about the news and events going on.

Here's our mobile view. Obviously big jump, like Betsy, we came from an old site. It wasn't responsive. Having a responsive screen is very nice so we can expand and see these things. It's also much more accessible for the mobile network. I can't say we've had the traction we wanted there. Tyson’s nurses all over the world, they're not sitting behind a desk. Most of our users are. They have a computer, the desktop is their greatly preferred method. We have few users using the mobile. We didn't spend a whole lot of time on it. We're hoping to continue to do more but we don't have the demand driving that so we're staying away from that for right now. It is there, it's very usable.

The alerts, I mentioned this earlier, in this case, our user Audrey Henderson, is in Australia West and they have an alert coming up right there. This is a component that any of our authors can use and they get to flag it, they'll tag these as local or global, they'll pick out their site, and it would show up differently. If I'm not in Australia West, I may not see that alert. It doesn't affect me that they were having fire drills in the office in Houston. If I’m in Midland, I don't need to know about the tornadoes going on in Bartlesville when I’m in Alaska. Those are components the authors can use to quickly reach the people and keep the content very relevant.

The ‘My Links’ area, very similar to what you've seen on the other sites, you get to pick your links. Yes, we defaulted 12 links for you, what you wanted. As Betsy showed, this is an area where you get to pick what your 12 links are including making up one of your own. If you wanted 12 links to google, which is not going to be one we provided for you, go ahead, you could do it.  

The question was asked while Betsy was speaking, “how many have changed?”, well I ran out and jumped into the back end of SharePoint real quick and found out that 85% of ours have changed since we launched. So we've had very good traction there. There is some upkeep there because as some of the favorited sites change, we have to do some extra work to go into their records to update that for them, but we want to keep it relevant. We want to keep it very important to them so that it is something they do take advantage of, and again, we build the muscle memory. Let them keep using it.

Samantha Kenney:  So we have a bunch of questions, so I will go through them here, and I know Tyson’s been going through and typing out his responses for a few folks here, but can you just quickly go through for each of you which department that you sit within, please and thank you?

Brian Kelly:  Absolutely. I'm in IT and one of the questions was, “who made up the team?” As we focused on the Corporate Communication site, our team was really IT and Corporate Communications was the base team. We had long reaching fingers as was alluded to earlier. We'll grab anybody we need to pull in, cyber security, architecture, and when I say Corporate Communications, yeah that's a few people here for Corporate, but it really was the 50+ authors around the world that sit in every business unit who then talk to their business unit leaders about what was important. So it's kind of nebulous to say what the team was.

Samantha Kenney:  Betsy, which part of the organization do you sit in?

Betsy Codding:  I'm in communications.

Samantha Kenney:  And Tyson?

Tyson Henry:  The department called Digital Business where we set up in strategy and planning.

Samantha Kenney:  And so what's interesting to me, Tyson, is that you actually report to somebody who has an Innovation title, which is one that we've seen come through recently. One of our primary audiences. So it's interesting to attack it from that way. 

“How do you get employees to use the mobile version?” So I know Tyson already mentioned this and Brian you talked about the fact that you don't have a lot of folks using mobile. Betsy, do you run into that issue at all with MassMutual?

Betsy Codding:  Yeah, we're kind of in the same boat as Brian. We don't have a lot of traction on mobile now and I think that's largely because of launching during the pandemic so people were not moving around a lot. So now we just feel like we have to go through the change management exercise of reminding people that that capability exists, so now that people are traveling again or even they're you know moving around within the building, it's just a matter of saying like “hey this functionality is available and it's fully responsive and usable site on your phone.”

Samantha Kenney:  Oh okay, so this is a Delve question. “Is there an out-of-the-box solution to integrate Delve into SharePoint Page or was that provided by the vendor that you worked?”

Tyson Henry:  I think it was a combination. We did with some custom development there to get that to work along with you know some of the Akumina framework. 

Samantha Kenney:  A little bit of both I’d say.

I know the answer for this one. So, “Does the authoring tool have the content lifecycle management so it prompts creators to review and update their pages on a periodic basis?” Anyone, Brian, Tyson, Betsy, do any of you have that version?

Brian Kelly:  No, we do not.

Samantha Kenney:  No, okay. So there is a version of Akumina that does do that, however it's  not on these particular ones that we're featuring today.

Card sort. That would be my question too. This is from Sandra. “Did you use a card sort exercise to help determine taxonomy for the navigation bar?”

Betsy Codding:  We did. We did two kinds of card sorts actually. We did open and then we did closed. So the first one was really a hands-on, putting things on index cards and having people put them in piles and name the categories, and then the second one was we gave them named categories and they had to try and fit things into them.

Samantha Kenney:  Two more questions. “Does the intranet pop up when employees sign on to their computers?”

Brian Kelly:  Yes, that is our default browser.

Samantha Kenney:  Great question, Marian. 

And then last one, and I think this will be where we end for today because we are at the top of the hour, “What are the top things you would focus on for future ‘wannabe’ award winners?” We'll start with Betsy for that one.

Betsy Codding:  I would say, I mean obviously this particular award is a UI/UX award, so, and I think we all put a good amount of time into our design, homepage layout, so I would definitely focus on that. We had a great lead designer, Mario, on my team who really worked hard to make sure the intranet was readable, usable, plenty of white space, and I would say focus on accessibility too. We did a lot of, Mario in particular, like in terms of color contrast and capabilities to tab through things if you can't use a mouse.

Samantha Kenney:  Absolutely and yes, your received a lot of recognition within the report  from Nielsen Norman for that as well around your really thought leadership in that area as being an example to really look towards, so kudos to you and your team.

Betsy Codding:  Thank you.

Samantha Kenney:  Tyson?

Tyson Henry:  I can't say it any better. I mean UI/UX design, all that stuff, accessibility, that kind of thing.

Samantha Kenney:  Brian?

Brian Kelly:  Yeah, I’m going to go a different perspective. I wouldn't go after the award. It’s nice to have that feather in the cap having done it, but it's really nice to have it up, functioning, quietly without hearing about problems.

Samantha Kenney:  Spoken like a true member of the IT team. I mean, excellent answer. 

Alright, so thank you again all very, very much for first and foremost agreeing to join us today, sharing your expertise, sharing all of your insight into what it has taken to get to where you are today. I know I took a lot of notes for folks, I’m sure that you took a lot of notes for each other and everyone on the line and all so positive.

So please feel free to reach out. We will have all of the slides and the recording available to everyone within the next 48 hours or so, and again, if you have any questions, please contact us and we'll be happy to answer your questions as best we can.

So with that, Betsy, Brian, Tyson, thank you all so much again.  

Betsy Codding:  Thank you.

Brian Kelly:  Thank you.  

Tyson Henry:  Thank you.

Samantha Kenney:  Everyone have a great rest of your day.

Betsy Codding:  Thank you, you too.

Samantha Kenney:  Bye everyone.

Our Speakers

Tyson Henrie – Digital Workplace Sr Director, Banner Health

Tyson has been a digital workplace leader in the Healthcare industry for over a decade. He has led the implementation of two Nielsen Norman award winning intranets that impacted combined audiences of more than 80,000+ employees, including nurses, physicians, hospital and clinic staff, and corporate employees. Tyson has expertise in digital product management, enterprise search, social collaboration, and content and knowledge strategy. He has helped roll out and adopt Microsoft Teams, Yammer, and other workforce technologies for two large healthcare organization. Tyson holds a master's degree in Information Science from City University London.

Betsy Codding - Head of Digital Communications & Multimedia, MassMutual

Betsy has 20+ years of in-depth experience creating intranets, websites, digital advertising, and digital content.  She recently led the re-imagining of the MassMutual intranet – including discovery, design, build, launch and change management phases. She is excited about the power of digital experiences to empower employees and improve employee experience.

Brian Kelly – Sr.  IT Business Analyst, ConocoPhillips

Brian is excited to share experiences of working with the global communications team to create, implement and support the award-winning ConocoPhillips portal intranet pages. The site pages have been used by more than 20K users in at least nine countries.

Samantha Kenney – VP, Global Marketing, Akumina

Samantha comes to Akumina from Bottomline Technologies where she was responsible for their global digital strategy. Her extensive background includes work at Silvertech where she managed a team of digital strategist and built out brand recognition for their largest clients.

From pioneering a non-profit, regional branding initiative to advancing corporate digital transformation on a global scale, Samantha’s ability to spearhead marketing plans and execute efficiently is inspired. She coaches her teams on finding the ‘why’ for customers and then crafts solutions that will help them reach their goals.

Samantha is an in-demand speaker on a national scale, providing custom workshops aimed at driving organizations forward in the digital space.